How A Constitution Is Turned From a Shield Into A Sword

Here is a fine, clear piece from The National Post (June 30th) in which Professor Bruce Pardy of Queen’s University scolds judges for wandering outside the confines of the law and “reading in” meanings to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) that are not there, and were never intended to be there.

Professor Pardy explains how this sneaky usurpation of the Will of the People takes place by invoking “Charter Values” that judges either invent from whole cloth, or simply assume were meant to be a part of the Charter, or ought to have been part of the Charter, and so on. But as they are nowhere to be found in the Charter, judges simply invent and invoke them, and rule accordingly. Which means that far too often, we are being ruled by phantom values that exist only in the heads of judges.

Pardy explains how this illegitimate manoeuvre (inventing “Charter Values” that are not in the Charter), in effect “transform the Charter from a roster of liberty rights [intended to protect citizens from illegitimate state power] to a regime of undefined, collectivist values [that enable the state to impose its own values on citizens].

And this, in effect, “turns the protective shield of the Charter into a sword.”


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